Local markets in Northeast, Michigan, Southeast deal with SpinCo ramifications

Even as federal regulators continue to ponder the efficacy of SpinCo, the Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) subscriber juggle proposed to clear one hurdle of Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), the wide-ranging deal is roiling local markets that might soon, for better or worse, have a completely new cable operator presence.

In Massachusetts, 182,699 Charter customers in 53 communities will transfer to Comcast and be added to the 1.48 million customers the nation's top MSO already controls in 246 communities throughout the state. That led Auburn, Mass., selectmen to approve a Charter-to-Comcast license transfer, and the Hadley and Easthampton select boards to hold hearings on similar actions.

Hadley Town Administrator David Nixon was relatively certain that the terms of the existing 10-year cable franchise agreement will stay in place but there might be changes in programming and senior discounts.

"For the customers there shouldn't be a rate change," Nixon told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

However, the deal could "completely reshape the Michigan cable TV market … affecting thousands of jobs, hundreds of thousands of customers, tens of millions of dollars in local asset investments and various community programs," a Crain's Detroit Business story said.

North Carolina and New York are taking cautious approaches.

In Durham, N.C., county commissioners asked state Attorney General Roy Cooper to scrutinize the merger based on a local consultant's report that the $45 billion deal would create "a media cartel that poses a grave threat to North Carolina consumers," the Durham Herald-Sun reported.

Meanwhile, Common Cause New York filed comments with the state's Public Service Commission urging it to reject the merger because the deal would create a company that is "too big to regulate, at least at the state level," according to Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York. "A greatly enlarged, post-merger entity will have even more difficulty and less incentive to provide acceptable customer service," she added in a letter obtained by the Albany Times Union.

For more:
- The Daily Hampshire Gazette has this story
- the Worcester News Telegram has this story
- Crain's Detroit Business has this story
- The Durham Herald Sun has this story
- and the Albany Times Union has this story

Related articles:
Comcast-TWC is like pairing Justin Bieber and Lamborghini, Consumers Union says
Liberty Media's Maffei: Small cable operators need a 'big brother'
Analyzing Comcast-TWC's regulatory chances using HHI

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